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Author: Breeze Content

Women's hands place on top of one another

Sheltering hope

In Pincher Creek, an emergency shelter stands as a beacon of hope for women grappling with the realities of domestic violence and crisis.

Established by the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter Association, this refuge extends its hand to those navigating the darkest corridors of family violence, providing essential support and sanctuary for women and children.

The need for such a shelter was recognized in 1988, following a forum on family violence issues sponsored by Matthew Halton High School. In 1992, PCWESA registered as a non-profit organization and, five years later, the shelter opened its doors in Pincher Creek.

Since then, this haven has offered hope to women experiencing violence within their families.

The shelter’s operations are finely tuned to offer a lifeline to those in need. When a woman seeks assistance, a carefully orchestrated process unfolds. A simple phone call sets in motion a chain of support.


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“Women can access the residential program of the shelter by calling the shelter to request space. We have criteria that we use to determine if we would be a fit for women who are calling to request space,” says the shelter’s executive director, Lori Van Ee.

In crisis situations, women and children can stay at the shelter for up to three weeks.

“We are only an emergency shelter that provides safe, accessible shelter for 21 days, while women and families are seeking more long-term housing,” Lori tells Shootin’ the Breeze.

Asked about times of high demand, Lori says the association stands ready with contingency plans to ensure that no one is turned away in time of need.

“If we cannot accommodate any individual or families, we would always ensure that they are able to get to another safe shelter. In an emergency, we could utilize the cots that we have at the shelter, that were donated to us by Matthew Halton High School, until we were able to find space elsewhere for the women and/or families,” she says, underscoring the community’s unwavering solidarity and support.


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The safety of occupants is paramount. Lori emphasizes that security measures, including round-the-clock staffing and surveillance systems, safeguard residents from potential threats, ensuring their peace of mind as they navigate the path to healing.

Beyond providing a safe haven, the PCWESA runs several projects to empower women to rebuild their lives beyond fear.

“We provide education to individuals and families accessing our shelter on domestic violence, safety planning and how family violence affects children,” Lori explains.

“We assist women in accessing different resources and services to meet their needs and achieve their short-term goals. We offer various programs within the shelter to help individuals and families become more confident and improve their well-being.”

Currently, the shelter operates three programs: residential, outreach and child support. The residential program aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for women and their children, while the outreach effort assists women in setting goals that will enable them to live more productively and independently.


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Through community outreach and advocacy efforts, the shelter team strives to raise awareness of domestic violence and its far-reaching effects, collaborating with local stakeholders to amplify the message of prevention and intervention.

The child support program facilitates age-appropriate activities for children staying in the shelter, as per the PCWESA website.

Lori is undeterred by the absence of designated funding for southwestern Alberta in the 2024 provincial budget.

“I am happy for the shelters that were able to receive the funding,” she says. “This funding allows those shelters to operate at a greater capacity, being able to support more individuals and families who are seeking their services.”

The Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter continues to be a support system, providing vital support and sanctuary for those in need, as they journey towards healing and empowerment.



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Woman looks down at photo of her daughter and a heart-shaped rock in her hand.

Finding hope through the language of hearts

In the quiet corners of Betty DeCecco’s world, love weaves itself into the fabric of everyday life in the most unexpected of ways.

Since her daughter, Debbie DeCecco-Orleni, passed away in 2009, Betty has found herself navigating the expanse of grief, her heart aching with the weight of memories and the void of loss. Yet, amidst the shadows of sorrow, a glimmer of hope emerged.

Betty’s life changed when Debbie died of breast cancer in May 2009, leaving her heartbroken. Betty was passing her days when a glimmer of hope emerged, unfurling in the tapestry of dreams.

On a December night in 2014, Betty had a dream in which she found herself enveloped in the ethereal embrace of her daughter’s presence. Debbie’s voice, soft as a whisper, echoed through the realms of slumber, urging Betty to seek solace in the symbolism of hearts.

“I still remember that dream. Debbie was there. She told me, ‘Look for hearts, and you will see me,’ ” Betty shares, her voice breaking with emotion.



Though the dream faded with the morning light, its message lingered, etched into Betty’s heart like an indelible promise. She started decoding the message of how she could see hearts. Years passed by and again, in December 2019, she had the same dream. Unable to shake off the message, she felt even more restless.

More years passed, and Betty searched, her eyes scanning the world with hope. Then, on a crisp October day in 2023, she stumbled upon a heart-shaped pebble nestled among stones scattered along the roadside. Shocked, yet inexplicably comforted, she knew this was no mere coincidence — it was a message from her beloved daughter, a beacon of love guiding her through the darkness.

Since that fateful day, Betty’s world has become a tapestry of hearts as she finds them everywhere — in spilled soup, in the crystalline embrace of winter’s first snow and even in fallen leaves. Each heart-shaped apparition is a whispered assurance from beyond, a testament to the enduring bond between a mother and her daughter.

Betty found solace in the presence of these tokens.


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Heart images

Do you see what Betty sees?


“They were not mere coincidences but cosmic affirmations of my daughter’s love,” Betty tells Shootin’ the Breeze, while showing the pictures of hearts she found everywhere.

In the embrace of each heart, Betty found the courage to confront her pain and to unravel the tendrils of sorrow that bound her heart.

In the last year, Betty has shared her journey with her near and dear ones. Some have offered solace, while others remain skeptical, unable to fathom the depths of her experience. Yet, in the warmth of Betty’s presence, even the most hardened hearts soften, touched by the rawness of her emotion.

“Many people told me that it’s just coincidence, but I know that even though she is gone, she is still communicating her love in this way,” Betty says.

And so, in the quiet corners of Crowsnest Pass, among the hearts Betty has kept saved in the form of photos, a mother finds peace in the midst of pain. Her journey is not about closure but continuation, a testament to the timeless bond between a mother and her daughter, forever etched in the hearts of those who dare to believe.


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Pincher Creek Women in Business group snowshoeing

Empowering entrepreneurs

The women of Pincher Creek are poised to drive the region’s evolving business and leadership scene, and Pincher Creek Women in Business is at the forefront of this transformation.

Established in 2018 under the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce, this group is dedicated to supporting women in their professional development, empowering them to steer their ventures toward success.

“We realized that most new businesses in our area are being opened by women. So, we developed the Pincher Creek Women in Business group to help support women in business, to help educate them and help them with networking,” says committee chairwoman Jill Bruder.

The initiative stemmed from recognizing women’s growing participation in the region’s business landscape, as highlighted by the chamber of commerce board of directors. Leaders like Marie Everts and Cassie Ducharme laid the groundwork for this transformative endeavour, igniting a movement that continues to empower and connect local women.

With over 400 women participating, the group has become a beacon of inclusivity and empowerment. Unlike traditional organizations, Pincher Creek Women in Business has no formal memberships or registration processes; the ethos here is simple — anyone, regardless of her stage in business or industry, is welcome.


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“We started very, very small with zero budget, just trying to see what was needed in our community,” Jill explains.

“Our committee is completely volunteer-driven, and we use people’s contacts to find presenters. We do not have a formal registration process. We just open this up to any woman who wants to come.”

The group hosts events throughout the year, ranging from seminars on navigating difficult conversations in the workplace to workshops on leveraging social media for business growth.

They have even delved into more light-hearted activities like snowshoeing and outdoor yoga, ensuring that gatherings are informative and enjoyable for all participants.

Beyond the networking and educational opportunities, the group aims to foster mentorship and support for women at all stages of their careers. Recent events have facilitated open discussions on the challenges of entrepreneurship, allowing women from various backgrounds to share insights and experiences.


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“We have everyone from house painters to nail technicians to bankers to hotel managers, and everything in between,” Jill notes. “Our goal is to provide a welcoming place to support women, educate them and provide networking experiences for people in all levels of business.”

Looking ahead, Pincher Creek Women in Business is poised to further engage with the next generation of women entrepreneurs, recognizing the importance of nurturing young talent and providing opportunities for exploration and growth.

As it gears up for its upcoming event — Perogies, Planning and Partnership —the group reaffirms its commitment to supporting women in business and creating a thriving ecosystem of empowerment and connectivity.

The event, scheduled for April 11, promises not only to build perogies but also to forge new local partnerships, symbolizing the essence of what this group represents: collaboration, camaraderie and community spirit.

Angela Parnal will be leading the charge, showcasing the spirit of collaboration and partnership that defines Pincher Creek Women in Business.



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Diana Smith and Trevor Clinton with Golden Garbage award at St. Michael's School in Pincher Creek.

Golden Garbage reward inspires tidy spaces

In a world where cleanliness is paramount, instilling the value of tidiness and respect for one’s surroundings in children is more crucial than ever. Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this fundamental lesson often falls by the wayside.

Recognizing the pressing need for awareness among children, one school in Pincher Creek is leading the charge in fostering a culture of cleanliness, thanks to its caretaker, Trevor Clinton.

When Clinton was hired by St. Michael’s School in 2017, he quickly noticed a concerning trend. Despite the newly renovated and modernized facilities, students were disrespecting areas of the school, with little regard for cleanliness or the learning environment. Garbage littered the floors, chairs were left haphazardly and personal items were strewn about.

Amidst this, one class stood out for its cleanliness. Seeking guidance, Clinton approached Manon Thauvette, the teacher of that class. She shared her simple yet effective strategy: allocating 10 minutes at the end of the day to pick up chairs and 10 things that can go into the garbage.

Following Thauvette’s lead, Clinton rewarded this class with a box of 50 Timbits and told them to tell others what they did to earn the reward.

“I gave the Timbits to that class and told them they got them because their room was able to be cleaned quickly and properly. I could see that they cared about their learning space and their learners. I also told them to tell everybody why they got those Timbits,” Clinton says.


Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Moving forward, he started picking a class weekly that was doing a good job of picking up their stuff, and what began as a humble endeavour soon blossomed into a schoolwide trend.

With the support of principal Karen Schmidt (the school’s associate principal at the time) and funding from the school, Clinton introduced the Golden Garbage Can reward program. Each week, a class demonstrating exceptional cleanliness and respect for their learning space would receive a reward, initially a box of Timbits.

The impact was immediate and profound. Students eagerly participated in keeping their classrooms tidy, motivated by the prospect of recognition and reward. As word spread throughout the school, a culture of responsibility and pride began to take root.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic presented unforeseen challenges. When schools reopened, neither the school nor Clinton had enough budget to reward students on a weekly basis. Undeterred, Clinton expanded his efforts beyond the school walls, garnering attention and support from parents, local organizations and businesses.

Donations sustained and expanded the program. What began as a simple gesture of appreciation evolved into a movement, uniting the school and its community in a shared commitment to cleanliness and respect.



Trevor Clinton and Barb Schram of Cowley Lions Club

Barb Schram of the Cowley Lions Club presents a cheque to Trevor Clinton to support the Golden Garbage Can program.  Trevor is grateful for this support and for other donations from the Knights of Columbus, Friends’ of St. Michael’s, Pincher Creek Co-op, The Hut and Epicure.

Photo courtesy of St. Michael’s School

Six years later, the program has expanded to reward three winning classes per week — one each from elementary, junior high and high school — but it is not limited to other learning spaces.

“It has become very hard to reward just one class because of the competitiveness throughout the school. So after getting some funding from the Knights of Columbus and going to some other businesses and clubs in town, I chose to step the program up this year,” Clinton shares.

“Now, we reward elementary classes with the Golden Garbage Can, the junior high with the Golden Dustpan and the high school with the Golden Broom rewards.”

Clinton says parents have praised the initiative for instilling valuable life skills in their children and fostering a sense of community.

Looking ahead, Clinton envisions further growth and impact for the program. Expansion to include additional classes and recognition for individual efforts demonstrates his unwavering dedication to creating a positive learning environment.

Clinton recognizes the long-term implications for the school and its community beyond the immediate benefits of cleanliness and organization.


Three young men pull a fourth from a swimming pool on a spinal board.

Future Lifesavers

River Clark, left, Adam Noel and Lincoln Sommerfeldt pull Alex Yagos from the water on a spinal board during a training session at the Pincher Creek swimming pool.

The young men are working toward Bronze Cross status, which, once achieved, allows them to move forward to attain National Lifeguard certification.

For more information on courses available at the local pool, call 403-627-2565.


Three young men pull a fourth from a swimming pool on a spinal board.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Dancers perform Cats on front page of March 27, 2024, issue of Shootin' the Breeze

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – March 27, 2024

Cats comes to life

Megan Bruder leaps purrfectly into character as the rest of the feline cast prowl and creep into place during the final number of Turning Pointe Dance Studio’s annual Evening With the Stars Gala, held Saturday at the MDM Centre in Bellevue. Along with Megan, the pre-primary/senior production of Cats included Vienna Coulombe, Kataly Forget, Ava Harry, Presley Houda, Jane Huska, Tannis Huska, Jorja Oberholtzer, Ryleigh Oberholtzer, Zophie Pawlowski, Mary Rast, Paige Rast, Georgia Rygaard, Sasha Shenton, Skyler Siray, Kenzie Stewart, Lily Stewart and Olivia Yeske. The three-act Gatsby gala highlighted competitive solos, duets and group choreographies by Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek dancers. Watch for more in next week’s issue of the Breeze.

Photo by Teri Harrison

Rhett Bevans and Mrs. Meservy from Spring Glen Elementary School skate together with a pilon between them.

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – March 20, 2024

Schooling on skates

Grade 2 student Rhett Bevans and Grade 1-2 teacher Mrs. Meservy enjoy some ice time March 14 at the Memorial Community Centre arena in Pincher Creek. It was the second day of skating lessons for Spring Glen Elementary students in grades 1 to 3.

Photo by Dave Lueneberg

Front page of Shootin' the Breeze newspaper

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – March 13, 2024

Tub time!

Mira, a one-year-old bernedoodle from Crowsnest Pass, became the first paying customer at Pincher Creek Humane Society’s new dog wash station, and it sure looks like she’s enjoying herself. Also posing in the photo are Sasha Whaley and her sons Desmond and Cameron.

Photo by Dave Lueneberg

Figure skater dressed on black on front cover of Feb. 28 Shootin' the Breeze

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Feb. 28, 2024

Preparing for Boots & Bling

Jane Christensen, 14, lands a single axel during her practice routine for Pincher Creek Skating Club’s upcoming rodeo-themed carnival, Boots & Bling. “The seniors will each be performing a solo,” says head coach Kim Civiero. “There will also be some group numbers.” The show begins at 2 p.m. on March 23 at the MCC Arena and will include a raffle table and sales of 50-50 tickets. Admission is by donation.

Photo by Dave Lueneberg

Crowsnest Pass RCMP notice for July 17 accident on Highway 3 near Lundbreck, between Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

Magrath man dies in avalanche near Castle Mountain

A backcountry avalanche claimed the life of a 46-year-old Magrath man Saturday afternoon.

Crowsnest Pass RCMP reported that two adult males and two children were snowmobiling between Carbondale and Castle Mountain Ski Resort when an avalanche occurred.

RCMP say one of the men escaped with the children but the second male was buried in the snow. 

The incident was reported to Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek RCMP around 6 p.m., and an investigation determined the incident took place at approximately 1 p.m.

Pincher Creek RCMP recovered the body of the missing male early Sunday afternoon with assistance from Southwest Alberta Regional Search and Rescue, Fernie Search and Rescue K9 and handler, and Alberta Conservation.

Condolences are extended to the family and friends of the deceased.


Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta



Toddler enjoys a bun and a bowl of chili at the Chili Bowl Festival in Crowsnest Pass

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Feb. 7, 2024

A perfect bowl on a chili day

Crowsnest Allied Arts held its annual Chili Bowl Festival this past Saturday at Crowsnest Pass Public Art Gallery.

Volunteers Lesley Gurney and John Kinnear serve up tasty chili in top left photo, while Judy Cooke, front, and Sue Mitchell help folks find a favourite among the donated pottery bowls. At right, one-year-old Jordan Brown enjoys his first taste of chili.

Photos by Karen Tamminga-Paton

Pair of locked handcuffs on blue background with shadowed edges

Piikani RCMP arrest five on drug charges

Piikani Nation RCMP arrested five people Tuesday in the Brocket townsite.

Four females and one male are charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking — Schedule I: Methamphetamine (and analogues), and one of the females was also charged under the trespassing act.

RCMP encourage residents to continue reporting drug dealers and information about other illegal activity by contacting the Piikani Nation detachment at 403-965-3300.

Tips can also be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477, through the P3 Tips app (available from Google Play or the Apple Store), or online at Your anonymity is protected and you may be eligible for a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest.

If you witness a crime in progress or an emergency, call 911.



Two girls using a flashlight to read a book at Canyon School in Pincher Creek

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Jan. 31, 2024

Shining a light on literacy

Grade 1 classmates Madelyn Blatz, left, and Olive Schnell read a book by flashlight during Flashlight Friday. Canyon School also celebrated National Family Literacy Day at the same time on Jan. 26. Students from kindergarten to Grade 6 have started the One Book, Five Schools project.

Photo by Dave Lueneberg

Five women pose with curling brooms and rocks

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Jan. 24, 2024

Clean sweep to victory

Sixteen teams and six days of competition, and it was an all-ladies rink that took the title at this year’s Town and Country Mixed Bonspiel at the Pincher Creek Curling Club.

Creekview Dental, led by co-skips Hayley Smith and Jessie Kilkenny, doubled Justin Zoratti’s foursome 4-2, stealing one in the sixth end to take the championship in Saturday’s A-event final. From left are Shelby Speight (spare), Jocelyn Metzler (lead), Jessie Kilkenny (skip),  Jessica Brauer (third) and Hayley Smith (second).

Snow on the way for Southwest region

Environment Canada has issued a winter storm watch for much of southwest Alberta, beginning sometime overnight tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Wind gusts of 60 km/h and warm temperatures of +10 Wednesday will give way to snow and wind-chill temperatures closer to minus 6 Thursday.

Snowfall amounts range anywhere from 5-10 cm inland away from the mountain ranges to up to 25 cm along the foothills.

Snow is expected to taper off Thursday night ahead of a cooler, drier trend that begins Friday and continues through Tuesday of next week.

The winter storm watch covers the Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, and Cardston regions. As of noon, Wednesday, Lethbridge was not part of the advisory.



Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Nov. 29, 2023

Husky hustle

Pincher Creek’s Austin Kaupp gets control of the puck as he storms down the ice toward the opposing net. Austin and the U13T3 Huskies played in back-to-back contests over the weekend against Okotoks and Cochrane, nabbing a win and a tie to improve their regular-season record to 2-0-2.| Photo by William Cockerell

Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull, teenaged Indigenous girl with shoulder-length brown hair and braces. Missing from Piikani Nation.

Missing Piikani Teen – Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull

RCMP on the Piikani Nation are appealing for the public’s help in finding a missing 17-year-old girl.

Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull was last seen in Brocket at noon this past Monday, Nov. 20. Authorities are worried for the teen’s well-being and would like to speak with her.

Jalessa Joy is described as being about 5 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 95 pounds. She has brown hair with black tips, and brown eyes. It’s believed she was wearing black clothing, including a thin black sweater.

Anyone with information of Jalessa Joy’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Piikani Nation RCMP detachment at 403-965-2000. 

You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), if you wish to remain anonymous or go online to



Updated photo of missing Crowsnest Pass youth Tristen Newton. White male with very short, light brown hair, wearing black hoodie.

Missing Crowsnest Pass Youth located safe

UPDATE: Nov. 24, 2023

Crowsnest Pass RCMP have confirmed that Tristen Newton has been located and is safe.


Original report: Nov. 22, 2023

Tristen Newton of Bellevue has been missing since Nov. 18 and is believed to be in the Pincher Creek area of southwestern Alberta.

Crowsnest Pass RCMP say the 16-year-old youth was last seen in Frank on Saturday. He was wearing a grey T-shirt, burgundy sweatpants, blue Vans and possibly a black Playboy hoodie.

Tristen has blonde hair and blue eyes and is described as being about 4′ 11″ and 130 pounds.

If you have information about Tristen’s whereabouts, please contact Crowsnest Pass RCMP at 403-562-2867, or your local police service.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at or by using the P3 Tips app available through the Apple App or Google Play stores. To report crime online, or for access to RCMP news and information, download theAlberta RCMP app.



Three girls in Santa hats singing on front page of Shootin' the Breeze Pincher Creek

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – Nov. 22, 2023

Christmas karaoke

The Pincher Creek Filipino Community’s entry was chosen as the best float at this year’s Parade of Lights, not only for the colourful decorations but also for the fabulous karaoke entertainment provided to the crowd gathered along the route. Belting out some holiday favourites are, from left, Babes, Lynelle and Aya Lomitao. | Photo by Dave Lueneberg